Highs and Lows of Rovers, Orbiters & Probes . . . Part 3

      Following the Mariner program, NASA stepped up to the plate with the Voyager program. This consisted of two orbiters and two landers, which were the first ones to land on Mars without a hitch. One of the biggest accomplishments in space exploration had just occurred and now NASA was in position to relay as much information, from the lander to the orbiter to Earth, as possible. The fact that we had touched down gracefully on Mars sent a shockwave through the science community and spirits were raised and hope in the future of space exploration began to grow again.

Sagan with Viking Model

      Viking was not just there for a photo shoot with Mars though, biological testing was done on the soil to search for organic compounds, anything that would point to an environment that could’ve supported life/water. Speaking of water, the orbiters were not only relaying data to and from earth, but also acted as ariel photographers of the strange landscape. This is where, I feel, the program was most successful. The photos showed incredible evidence of a watery history. Flood plains, tear drop shaped islands, valleys, erosion, it was all pointing to the backbone of life, water. By 1976, allthe orbiters and landers had stopped working and NASA decided to call off the mission a few years later, in order to make room for the next generation of scientists to pick up where the others left off.

      Viking had been a great success and it kept the momentum up for people and more importantly, money to start moving into the direction of more space exploration. But it will again be many years until success and luck find their way back into the space program.

Teardrop shape is indicative of water flowing past a stable object.

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